22, 2005/--Ashley the cat’s parents would be very proud of her,
indeed. Ashley, a grey and white Persian may be the first cat
who has ever been certified as a personal trainer.
fitness expert Phil Kaplan took an online fitness certification
test, paid $69.00, used the name “Ashley Kaplan” and now Ashley
the cat has a very nice certificate, a card identifying her
as a qualified certified personal trainer, and even a letter
of reference from the certifying agency. This one simple
act showed that anyone, feline, human, or other, can become
a “certified personal trainer.”
fitness professional for the past 22 years and a respected industry
leader, Phil says, “I grew so frustrated with the incompetent
trainers, with the absence of a standard as far as who is eligible
to call themselves a personal trainer, and I become fed up with
the array of worthless certifications. The fact that I was actually
able to get a fitness certification for my cat made me want
to expose a primary national problem within the fitness industry;
specifically, the lack of standards when it comes to personal
there is not one governing agency that monitors or measures
the competency of those who call themselves professional personal
trainers in the United
States. Phil has supported
actions to establish a national board, but has met criticism
from some certification agencies for taking a stand that might
invalidate their credential. Based on face-to-face interviews with hundreds
of personal training applicants, and seminar audiences numbering
in the tens-of-thousands, Kaplan finds most who aspire to training
careers have little or no understanding of anatomy, muscle function
or exercise safety precautions. “They think, ‘I’m strong, I
have muscles, I look good in shorts, I can be a trainer,’” said
Kaplan. Perhaps the strongest evidence of the magnitude of the
problem is the number of wrongful death cases in the court systems
related to personal training negligence. Kaplan feels,
“even one is one too many.”
nobody else will set the standard,” Kaplan asserts, “I will
raise the bar and work with my peers to establish an unofficial
but recognized standard.” In
an attempt to find the best personal trainers and follow through
on his promise to raise the bar by setting a new industry standard,
Phil Kaplan decided to run “The Fitness Apprentice Hunt.” He
put the call out to over 100,000 personal trainers letting them
know he was looking to hire the best in the field and he posted
an application / questionnaire at his high traffic website.
More than 8,000 trainers accessed the page. The description
page led to a very time-consuming application which was completed
by over 900 trainers. Kaplan was not surprised that over 7,000 who
accessed the contest information declined to devote 45 – 90
minutes to completing an in-depth questionnaire (http://philkaplan.com/fitnessapprenticeold.htm).
After a grueling process of reading through applications, and
recruiting key members of his staff to assist in the selection
process, 100 “finalists” were invited to create a five minute
video about themselves.
Kaplan, his business partner Terry O’Malley,
and his associate Juan Carlos Santana spent an entire day viewing
videos and by the end of that day the candidates were narrowed
down to the top ten. Five were from the U.S.
mainland, the other five from as far away as U.K.
and the island
October 25, Phil planned on flying the
top ten applicants to South Florida,
all expenses paid so that each contestant could compete for
two days in challenges at the Headquarters of Fitness 21 in
Weston, the 25,000 square foot health club co-owned by Kaplan
and O’Malley. Tasks may
include taking a group through an exercise program impromptu,
designing fitness routines for special populations, or spontaneously
putting together attention-grabbing events, all in a limited
amount of time. Dr. Anthony Abbott, founder of Fitness Institute
and activist dedicated to establishing a personal training standard,
will serve as one of the judges.
Ironically days before the competition, Abbott will be
sitting as an expert witness in a wrongful death case related
to personal training.
Wilma was an unexpected visitor and she forced postponement
of the final phase of the competition. The Top Ten will now be flown to Florida to compete on November
7th and 8th, 2005.
will be offered a job at Fitness 21 in Weston, at one of the
Fitness 21 Express locations (Coral Springs
and Coral Gables) or at Juan
Carlos Santana’s Institute for Human Performance in Boca
Raton. Personal Fitness Professional
Magazine will publicly track the winners’ career progress over
the next six months.
never set out to do my own version of “The Apprentice” but when
I saw I was able to get a certificate for my cat, I knew I had
to go to great lengths to find the top personal trainers and
I know the team I’m about to put together will serve as a model
for the competence and quality of service our industry can deliver. After all, the trainers are the ground army
who hold the power to restore Americans to health. The Fitness Apprentice Hunt is more than a competition.
It can spark the clarity and empowerment the general
public needs to make fitness a way of life.”